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Showing posts from 2014

The Luce Letters: The Devil's Take on Conscience Saying: " C.S. Lewis Had Me Wrong!"

The Devil writes to me once again after he has pondered my published comments: Dear Deacon,             You really disappoint me. I am not a crook. I am not a schemer. Yes, I have always been in the shadows. That is why I do like bureaucratic settings. I am just the guy in the next cubicle. I am safe from all the apocalyptic paranoia about my intentions. In the quiet shadows, there is nothing like water cooler drama to make me laugh and blush.             My stealthiness is not my choice.   I obey those certain powers. They govern nature and the universe. I am no different than, let’s say a whirlwind or an “earth-tide.” Yet, I am accused of being a cyclonic rebellious spirit. Didn’t I have the right to ask “why?” And after my “why,” I suddenly found myself marginalized by jealous Judases of my own species. They threw me out. It’s complicated, but there was no God to ostracize me. Wouldn’t a real God have “come to my assistance” as the Psalms elude. Blame the “theory of e

The Devil is In the Details: The Luce Letters

            How would “the devil” communicate and sell his wares to the public? How would he market his products? I’ll wax philosophical later, but I thought I’d share over time a series of letters written by the Devil to convince me and the readers to consider rethinking our general critiques of his utility to the world. These letters are not unlike those once written by the likes of C.S. Lewis in his Screwtape Letters . I thought it best if in my version of devil letters, that he would communicate directly to me as a potential recruit for his forces. The first of the letters is as follows:   Dear Deacon Tom: You have no idea how much I have wanted to get in touch with you. You see there are misunderstandings about me and the rumor mill of course seems to me to be a bit unfair and my dignity seems to be affected. I want to begin sharing with you my frustrations and thoughts so that we can, at some point, be on the same page. I know you have some preconceived ideas concernin

Guadalupe: Beyond Weird Science

The Lady of Guadalupe is considered cultural phenomenon. I have seen this image. It has been imitated in diverse formats including tattoos, sculptures, t-shirts, and coke bottle tops from El Paso to Sheboygan. But I have seen the real thing; It hangs almost 500 years after it was, dare I say created, by an artist "yet to be determined. "Unlike the Lady of Jasna Gora, in Poland, also a "cultural" icon, the image is one wherein paint strokes could not be detected by even the most advanced scientific techniques. This image has outlasted the ravages of the second law of thermodynamics: entropy. Jasna Gora is painted upon survivable material. The Lady of Guadalupe is imposed upon material that should have deteriorated at the most in 40 years. Yet it still exists almost 500 years after its debut. According to reports by NASA studies, the colors are actually floating a hundredth of an inch above the ayate fabric. Ayate is a cactus fiber used by indigenous tribes in

Suicide: Finding the X Factor that Treats the Soul

Robyn Williams shocked the world. Who knows why Robyn jumped from the brink of the precipice, that high rock of despair. He did know one thing. By taking such action, he would end his heart beat; his lungs would breathe no more.   He knew this. I have had good friends jump from the same brink. Most recently, my friend, Steve jumped. His life with the woman of his dreams and their six children ended in a divorce. This rendered my young friend alone in an apartment paid for by his soon to be ex-wife without the life he previously knew and the children he raised as a stay at home dad. It rendered him “difficult to employ” because of the measure of years he spent unemployed by choice. Add to that medications meant for other purposes, alcohol, it becomes easy to come to the conclusion that perhaps it’s better if you fall asleep and never wake up. Fame does not make suicide more acceptable or even understandable. Suicide is not ok. There may be no culpability in the moral sense bec

“Project Oak Tree: the Reasonableness of Virtue

    Project Oak Tree, is a Las Cruces based project which demonstrates the virtue of “hospitality” to the lost, the forgotten, the immigrant fleeing from violence and poverty in their homelands. The project gets its name from the story in the book of Genesis where Abraham hospitably welcomes three strangers. He had no idea who they really were. They could have been angels, the Holy Trinity, men from outer space, or whatever appeals to you if you are a Scientologist.   He welcomes them by the “shade of an oak tree” and decides to set up tents for each of them. He asks his wife, Sara, to bring them refreshment as they must have come a long way in the sandy desert.   In this sense Bishop Cantu’s overture in behalf of the Church is not a political statement, but rather a recognition of the God created dignity of all human beings. Borders do not attenuate dignity. Poverty does not attenuate dignity. And our country can claim it’s overabundance not by our own efforts to acquire or grasp

Opposable Thumbs and Mastication: We are "Who" we have become; not "what" we have become!

It is speculated that two factors of our development as a species differentiate us from other primates: 1) opposable thumbs; and 2) larger brain size. Anthropologically, anthropomorphically, and paleontologically the opposable thumb and the larger brain size is theorized to come about because of the following: A. Opposable Thumb development stems from an evolutionary adaptation of the need to develop refined tools (for hunting) from stone, copper, bronze and iron in order to survive being eaten by either our Neanderthal or the tiger. B. Larger brain development came about as our waning need to have a larger mandible (chewing mechanism) to masticate bone or as a defense. As we began to genetically trigger development of smaller mandibles, our skull capacity for larger brains increased the development of cerebral structures and material conducive to the development of "consciousness."   That's a new way of appreciating the epithet: "hand to mouth existence."

A Man Named Buford -- A Eucharistic Story

A man named Buford came to see me a few weeks ago. His need was great. Buford was homeless. I remember his desperation as he told me how he had been living in his car. He had been evicted by a girlfriend who had informally agreed to live with him at her place. He was a bit embarrassed to discuss the story thinking that perhaps I'd come to some kind of judgment of him. It's an awful thing to be homeless; no place or space to call your own, or place to rest; constantly afraid that a codes enforcement officer would come and say, you cannot park here, or you must move. The nights are still chilling cold, even with blankets in a car; then there is no place to shower...and that's a worse thing not looking presentable especially if you have a small job. I told Buford we would help him search out a place that fit his budget and that we would help with a deposit. The deposit would have to be a modest sum, nothing exorbitant. Finally, he asked me if I would fill his tank with ga

Something There Is That Doesn't Love a Wall

            “ Good fences make good neighbors,” is often quoted from Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall.” Frost concludes otherwise as he writes: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.“…Before I built a wall I’d ask to know what I was walling in or walling out, and to whom I was like to give offense.  Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down.”      Does a fence create a good neighbor? Is my neighbor any more good on one side of an imaginary line or less so when there is no obstruction in between? This is the classic question described in the Gospel of Luke’s parable of the Good Samaritan. Fences are built out of fear and loathing.  Like the Levite in the parable, his fence is not physical. It is a pseudo-spirituality bordering upon arrogance and pride, a fear of becoming “unclean” by touching the wounds of a man left for dead.       And so we build a $49 Billion Dollar fence of flesh and metal along the U.S.-Mexico Border. Why?  Be

Immersed in the Water of Each Other

(For those who have read my blog before, I am announcing that The Las Cruces Bulletin has agreed to publish my work as a column about once a month. I was asked to write an introductory column and asked to give it a name. Well, I chose -- Dwelling Places. I could think of no better name for my ramblings, contemplations, and gleanings and whatever is published in the Bulletin I will of course post on this blog by the same name. So the post below is my introductory column to an unsuspecting public. Wish me well. -- dtb)    In the Cecil B. DeMille classic, “The Ten Commandments,” the banished Moses (Charleston Heston), wanders for weeks in the desert. Moses eventually finds “strength from a fruit-laden palm tree...and life-giving water flowing from the well of Midian.” In his deep dulcet measured cadence Heston’s Moses says: “I am a stranger in a strange land. I have no wealth, no skill as a shepherd, and it is death to give sanctuary to a runaway slave.” A sheik of Midian, Jethro,